Republicans in the Iowa House are offering to scale back a major section of a labor bill that’s been the subject of House debate over the past two days.

Under the original legislation, public sector workers in Iowa would no longer have been allowed to negotiate over their health care benefits. The alternative: requiring all public sector workers under a union contract to make a co-payment of one-hundred dollars per month.

Representative Ron Jorgensen, a Republican from Sioux City, has been the bill’s primary advocate during House debate. “We understand how important employer-provided insurance is to individuals and families and, after listening to the people, at this time we are recommending to keep insurance under the scope of insurance, but, that said, I do feel is it also reasonable for public employees covered by Chapter 20 to contribute at least  $100,” Jorgensen said, shortly after 10 o’clock tonight.  “This rate is still well below what most private employees must pay.”

Representative Bruce Hunter, a Democrat from Des Moines, said the proposal is unfair because it only requires the co-payment for government workers who’ve covered by a collective bargaining agreement — while most managers won’t be required to pay more. “You are telling us that a superintendent who makes $199,000 a year needs to get away with paying no insurance,” Hunter said. 

Republicans estimate state government could save $33 million a year if all state workers under union contracts make a one-hundred-dollar-per-month co-payment for their health insurance.  A vote has not yet been taken on this proposal.

Debate on the bill began Wednesday afternoon and is scheduled to resume Friday morning at eight o’clock.